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City scraps plans to close NE bridge

(Published June 18, 2001)

By KATHRYN SINZINGER

Staff Writer

City officials have scrapped plans to close the Ninth Street/Brentwood Road bridge over New York Avenue amid complaints that the move would cause a "traffic nightmare" near the site of a huge new retail development planned for Northeast Washington.

"We will not interrupt traffic from New York Avenue to Brentwood Road," said District Division of Transportation (DDOT) spokesman Bill Rice. "We are now thinking along the lines of building a new parallel bridge."

Rice said the city has cancelled the design contract for a new bridge to replace the current one and is "in preliminary stages" of determining how a parallel bridge will be built. Property adjacent to the current bridge, near the cityís main post office, is owned by government entities. No timetable has yet been set, Rice said.

DDOT officials met with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Regina James and other concerned Ward 5 residents on June 14 to announce their decision to scrap the bridge replacement plans. The Common Denominator reported May 21 that James and At-Large Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, who chairs the councilís public works committee, had questioned the apparent lack of planning involved in the Williams administrationís announced plan to close the bridge for 30 months shortly after the new Kmart/Home Depot/Giant Food development is due to open next spring a few blocks away on Brentwood Road NE.

The bridge, which carries about 20,000 vehicles per day, currently has a 20-ton weight limit and its crumbling undercarriage has been reinforced in at least three places by steel supports. A DDOT representative told a community meeting in early April that the planned bridge closure was for "emergency" reconstruction. DDOT officials subsequently said the bridge "is not unsafe."

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator